Have Packers Found the “Reel Deal”?

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Aaron Jones

Are Green Bay Packers fans in for some excitement over the next several years or what? Of course I’m talking about our rookie eye-popping running back.

The guy is a play maker, a game changer, a red zone zephyr. He has the ability to make a difference, to turn a game around, to apply the dagger to the heart of an opponent at any moment. Though he’s been given the ball more than five times in only four games, he’s already compiled a fabulous, and growing, highlight reel.

No, I’m not talking about coach Mike McCarthy’s choice as starting running back. The guy I’m talking about needs a nickname worthy of his talents, so I propose: Aaron “The Reel Deal” Jones.

Total Packers became smitten with the guy early on. We wrote about him on April 29 (The Book On Aaron Jones, Packers’ Fifth-Round Pick), on October 8 (Is Aaron Jones Now the Guy?), twice on October 10 (Breaking Down Aaron Jones’ Magnificent Game, and Packers Not Committing to Aaron Jones), on October 29 (Nothing Has Ever Stopped Aaron Jones – Except Injuries), on October 30 (Aaron Jones: An NFL Feel-Good Story), and even on December 3 (Can Aaron Jones Carry Green Bay To The Playoffs?).

If you’ve any doubt about Aaron being a human highlight reel, take a gander at the October 29th post. What Aaron has been doing in his brief NFL career is no different than what he did in high school or in college. The guy is not only explosive, but he has a knack for coming through against the toughest opponents — and in the most critical moments of a game. And this has been despite missing most of two college seasons and almost three weeks of NFL games due to injuries.

In high school, where he variously played running back, receiver, and defensive back, he once rushed for 335 yards in the regional playoffs against a team renowned for its stingy defense.

In his first game college game, playing for University of Texas at El Paso in 2013, he ran for 127 yards in just 11 carries and scored two TDs. Prior to an injury he was second in the country in rushing yards. He opened the 2014 season with 237 rushing yards and three TDs. Jones had six 100-plus yard games and six multiple-TD games that year. He opened the 2015 season with six catches and high 83 yards receiving at Arkansas. Though that season was all but wiped out by an injury, he still managed to establish a school record run of 91 yards. Then he opened the 2016 season a 249 yards rushing, three TD, and 292 all-purpose yards.

In his final year at UTEP, Jones rushed for over 100 yards seven times, over 200 yards three times, he had one 300-plus yard game, and he scored 20 TDs. In his final college game, he gained 312 all-purpose yards. He set his school’s single season records for rushing yards (1,773), carries (229), and rushing average (7.7 yards, third best in the nation).

Some might quibble that UTEP was not a top-tier college. Okay, but you need to know that over his four years there he was the only talented offensive player on the team. UTEP was run-dependent rather than pass-proficient, and Jones often produced two-thirds or more of the team’s offensive yardage. Every defense Aaron faced was focused on one thing: limiting his output.

Though UTEP managed to have a winning record only once while Jones was there, the fact UTEP just finished 0-12 this year suggests how important Jones was to his team. To fans who came to watch him play in Sun Bowl Stadium, Aaron Jones is a legend.

The Wisdom of Mike McCarthy

Though coach Mike McCarthy started him off cautiously, in just his second pro game, at Dallas no less, Aaron went for 125 yards and a 6.6 average, and in his fourth game, against the Saints, he upped that to 131 yards, and a 7.7-yard average.

Jones was the difference in Green Bay’s thrilling win over the Cowboys — a game in which he outgained and outshone Ezekiel Elliott. He was named NFL rookie of the week twice in three weeks. Every person in Wisconsin was wildly excited and elated, except Big Mike, of course.

“I hope I have a 1-4 punch,” the coach said. “That’s why we drafted three running backs. It takes time. It’s a young man’s league, I get it, and Aaron had an opportunity he cashed in. I’m proud of him. He’s earned more opportunities moving forward. But this is not a one-man show.

Though Jones has demonstrated it has taken him no time to get up to speed in the NFL, McCarthy has remained true to his statement. In Jones’ last two injury-free games (against the Lions and the Bucs) McCarthy has seen fit to give him the ball a total of six times. Incomprehensible.

This is taking nothing away from Jamaal Williams, but even including his fine game on Sunday (21 for 113, 5.4 per carry, one touchdown), Williams is still averaging only 3.7 yards per rush. Jones is averaging 5.5 yards per rush, but maybe math wasn’t Big Mike’s focus when he played tight end at Baker University (see photo). It’s in Kansas. Baldwin City.

Mike McCarthy, Baker University

Aaron Jones has done everything you could ask of him on the field. I don’t recall any fumbles, any dropped passes, any missed assignments, any penalties. Every time he touches the ball he’s a threat to take it all the way. He’s the best sweep option the Packers have possessed since… who? Ahman Green? Ryan Grant? Dorsey Levens? Elijah Pitts? No, I think you’d have to go back to Paul Hornung.

Though his running style bears a resemblance to that of DuJuan Harris, he’s much more proficient. He’s clearly more talented than Randall Cobb when it comes to vision, quickness, and eluding tackles.

I’m not concerned about whether the NFL stage is too big for Aaron Jones. My concern is: will McCarthy squander the talent and potential of another late-round draft choice, as he has of Jeff Janis for the past four years?

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

15 Comments on "Have Packers Found the “Reel Deal”?"

  1. PF4L

    Total Packers become smitten with a lot of Packer players, they Crown them, then write articles about what pieces of shit they are down the road.

    • Ted Hawthorne

      No, he only makes clutch miracle catches in high tension, last minute situations.
      And on kick-off returns runs like a man escaped from a mental institution.

  2. Ferris

    Like I have said McCarthy is in the bottom 2 of NFL coaches. Not only does he mismanage the game he mismanages players like no other coach.

    • MJ

      To be fair, Davante Adams was given WAY more opportunities than Abbredderis, Janis, Davis or any other WR.
      Drop after drop, we was allowed to go back on the field. Yet, one mistake by the others meant their immediate send-off to warm the bench for a long while. Adams got about a year and a half worth of opportunities, and finally, he learned the trade. NFL players have a much smaller window to prove themselves.

      • PF4L

        This is one of the rare times i’ll stand by McCarthy….

        He went threw growing pains with Adams, got blasted for for it. Said fuck you, because he saw something in him and stuck with him. I’m sure Rodgers had something to say about it also, but give credit where it’s due.

        Adams can ball.

        • PF4L

          If any of McCarthys players that went to his “doghouse” like Janis, go to another team and succeed, then lets hear about it.

        • Empacador

          A broken clock is still right twice a day too. Because McNugget stuck by Adams when he was dropping over half his targets in some games…*golf clap*. BFD. He sees something in Hundley too. Hey, it could happen.

          Not ashamed to admit I was one of those guys that was on Adams and I was wrong. But its kinda hard not to be when the McNugget is preaching how he values availability, fundamentals and performance yet some guys are held to a higher unreasonable standard than others. If he would have sat Adams for a game or a half or something along those lines, he might have more credibility. Unfortunately that same fuck you, I’m sticking with something attitude has graced us with Dom Capers all these years as well.

          One of the rare times McNugget appears to have done something right doesn’t absolve him from being a smug prick whose total sum of suckage overshadows anything he might have accidentally gotten right. Look at his history of backing into shit. Wanted Alex Smith. Backed into Aaron Rodgers. Backed into the playoffs in 2010 thanks to a Desean Jackson punt return that allowed the Packers to edge the Giants. Which allowed him to ride the coattails of Rodgers to his lone championship. Fuck that guy, in the most respectful way possible. That he can’t find or teach a competent back up QB is the real McNugget, not the facade parading around Green Bay as a self proclaimed highly successful NFL head coach.

          • eugene

            I’m along time MM backer. But without Rogers MMs game calling has become ..ah..puzzling.. to be polite. I’ve always thought he was bullheaded, but its beginning to get laughable.

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